Local Muslims in Muzaffarabad, northern Pakistan, have stolen building materials and cut off Christians’ water supply in an effort to halt the construction of a church.
The Christian community have been granted permission by local authorities to build a church on a plot of land in Muzaffarabad, the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Azad Kashmir. But local Muslims have tried to sabotage its construction, starting a campaign on social media against the church building. Building materials have been stolen and local Muslims also deliberately destroyed a pipe which supplies water to members of the Christian community.
Church elders have reported the intimidation to police but, at the time of writing, there has been no official response.
Pakistan's laws allow Christians to meet freely to worship, and to share their faith. There is no penalty in law for Muslims who choose to convert to Christianity. But occasionally there are mob attacks on Christian worship services or prayer meetings, and congregations sometimes face local opposition to church buildings, with Muslims often claiming that ownership of church land is disputed. In September 2016 a group of Muslims, accompanied by police, attacked a church in Punjab. The mob ripped up Bibles, assaulted Christians and tore down the cross from the church roof. They claimed that the land was owned by Muslims, even though Christians have lived on the plot since 1947.